French Revolution - Part 3

The Impact of the Terror

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  • Created on: 11-05-13 08:39

Impact of the Terror

The Enagres - situation was deteroating in Summer 1793, - assiganat was below a third of its face value and drought had reduced grain supplies by 3/4.  The Group Enagres demanded for the government to take action - they were shocked by what they saw people starving , these people had seen very little improvment from the Revolution in terms of standard of living- ROUX (leader of Engares) - followers were wage-earners and poor. He wanted convention to deal immediatley with starvation and poverty , and when nothing happened he publicly declared them of being eveil. He wanted execution of hoarders who pushed up orice of grain- Robespierre wanted to destroy him as he was threatining the Commune & Convention- Roux was an influnetial figure in the journee 5th Sept 1793 - he was arrested during the journee and after several months in prison he took his own life 

The armee revolutionnaire - it consited of mainly sans-culottes the purpose was to confron counter-revolutionary activity and to defend the republic, there purposes included: 

  • ensure the food supplies of Paris and other cities
  • round up hoarders , royalist rebels and refactory priests
  • establish 'revolutionary justice' in south and west which had shown little enthusiasm for the Revolution 

Parisian army was successduly in supplying Paris with bread until spring 1794 and helped to preserve Revolution  and in other towns. - however success not going to last as numbers were small and had enormous hostilty from rural pop. - so disbanded - CPS did not like them because they created heavy opposition to the Revolution by their heavy-handed methods of dealing with peasants 

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Economic & Political Terror

Economic Terror - convention persuaded by Roux and sans-culottes passed a law which imposed the death pernalty on hoarders - Law Genral Maximum was passed to control prices - fixed prices on bread- wages were also fixed 50% above 1790. However maximum divided common people against eachother- rate often below cost of production- sans -culottes others wanted to be able to afford to buy bread- armee revolutionaire went to enforce maximum clashed with peasants and conflict between town & rural was deepend. To meet concerns of farmers the government revised prices upwards in Feb 1794 0 to disgust of sans-culottes - short term it was successfull & assignat rose to 48% of face value (good)

Political Terror - October 1793 'the government of France will be Revolutionnary until peace' - paved way for extreme policies - political terror took 3 forms

  • official terror controlled by CPS and CGS - victims came before Revolutionanry Tribunal
  • Terror in areas of federal revolt - such as the Vendee
  • Terror in other parts of France-under control of watch committees and armee revolutionnaire

Revolutionary Tribunal had heard 260 cases and 66 deaths - some very famous such as Marie Antoinette and Giordin leaders. 

Provincial Repression - from Jan to May 1794 troops moved through the area shooting almost every peasant thet met-burning farms & animals-women rapes- thousands surrendered and crammed into prisons , mansy shot without trial.  (16,600 executions in France during the Terror)- revolutionary armies and representatives-on mission often responsoble fro worst things- actions though fully supported - Toulon 800 shot without trial and 282 sent to guillotine- 'to pay for rebellion' - Lyon was ordered to be destroyed by CPS-72% of executions during Terror took place in west and SE

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Political & Religious Terror

Law of Suspects - was passed in 1793 government deligated power to local revolutoinary committees- Montagnards and supporters- world close with revolutionary armies and represenataives on mission to deal with counter-revolutionary activity- commitee could send people to revolutionary tribunal- symoblised Terror at Local level- end 1793 most rural communes had one

Extent of the Terror- offical amount of executions was 16,600- howecer does not include deaths from imprisonment , starvation etc..- most took place in Vendee rebellion and in SE. Victims were mainly peasants (28%) and urban workers (31%) - nobility jut 8%

Religious Terror : Dechristianisation- came from sans-culottes , revolutionary armies and representatives-on mission- hated Catholicism, felt it had betrayed revolution. Dechristianoisation to destroy Christianity and dominant cultural from French society- destory of monarchies destroy everything in connection with ancien regime- Churches were closed , church bells and silver removed, shrines and crosses destroyed - Commune stopped paying clerical salaries - Nov 1793 ordered all churchs in Paris to be closed - by spring 1794 most of countrys churches had been closed - Priests forced to announce priesthood and compelled to marry- many ordinary people outside civil war zones was aspect of the Terror which affected them the most 

Revolutionary Calendar- Oct 1793 - revolutinary calendar introduced- dated from 22nd September when Republic was proclaimed - year divided into 12 months of 30 days - 5 supplementary days called sans-culottides- each monrth has an appropriate name to the season - new calnedar ignored Sundays and festivals of the Church

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Dictatorship of CPS

Federal revolts had been crushed , food supplies were moving among towns and cities and value of assignat was rising , it appeared that the CPS policy for defending France was proving successful- with new confidence the Conventions Commitee was now beginning to claw back much of the power which had been passed to the sans-culottes 

Restoring Government Authority- revolutionary armies and committees were ignoring the laws , the government could not tolerate this underming its authority-but had to act carefully as didnt want to upset sans-culottes - Convention passed a decree stating the government was to be revolutionary until peace - meant suspension of constitution of 1793

Law of Revolutionary Government- law gave committees full power 

  • CGS was responsible for police and internal security and revolutionary tribunal 
  • CPS - more extensive powers - controlling ministers and generals - controlled also foreign policyand purge and direct local government - 

Revolutionary armies except one in Paris were disabandaned - new policies resulted in: the end of anarchy (a state of disorder), breaking the power of sans culttoes , providing France with first strong government 

It rejected many of the principles of 1789, all was reversed and Robespierre justified it by arguing dicatorship was necesaary until foreign and internal enemies of Revolution were destroyed- opposite before he took office 

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Opposition to the Government

Herbert - oppisiton from the author and followers- demanded more hoarders hsould be executed and property re-distributed - popular with sans-culottes , Cordeliers Club , Commune an Paris Revoluitonary army but not many in Convention. Robespierre disliked political extremism (dechristianisatio - turned Catholics against revolution)- Herbert was arrester with 18 supporters - accused of foreign agents and wanted miltary dicatorship  and then wanted tor estore monarchy- they were guilotined March 1794 - Paris though remained calm CPS used this to strengthen dictatorship , Parasian army disbanadened , Cordelier Club closed- Commune filed with Robespierre supporters 

Danton- opposistion from right - a former collegaue of Robespierre and a leading Montagnard/Jacobin learder. Indulgents (Danton and supporters) wanted to halt terror and to do this he argued war would have to come to an end as it was largely responsible for terror- Desmoulins was Dantons friend who supported his desire to end the Terror-Danton had large following in convention and was seen as threat by CPS- they thought his call to end of terror would leave door open for return of monarchy- he was executes along with Desmoulins- Committees had become brutalised. Fall of Hebert and Danton meant CPS was criticised - everyone lived in hatred and suscpiscion - deputies afraid to say anything 

THE GREAT TERROR - centred in Paris from 10th June to 27 July - all enemies of Republic brought to Revoliutionary Tribunal - some supporters of Danton ands Hebert were still alive , so Terror continued until they were eliminated - during Great terror approx. 1594 mean and women were executed - Robespierre had no desire to protect the innocent

Law of Prairial- 10 June 1794 - following assiantion attempts on Robespierre - directed against 'enemies of people' - anyone could be under it - was vague - no witnesses were to be called , no evidence needed , only verdicts possible were death or acquittal - was unfair and designed to speed up revolutionary justice - this was suceeded more people sentenced during this time than in previous 14 months- many victims were nobles and clergymen- 1/2 were members of wealthy bourgoise 

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The Overthrow of Robespierre

Rosbespierre by summer 1794 , started losing support from 3 key areas Catholics, Sans-culottes and on the CPS & CGS

Catholics- he wanted to untie Frenchmen in a new religion called 'Cult of Supreme Being' , the new religion pleased no-one. Catholics were distressed as it ignored Catholic doctrines , ceremonies & the Pope. Many people thougth that Robespierre was setting himslef up as the highest priest of the new religion 

Sans-culottes - his popularity was falling as 

  • execution of  Herbets
  • dissoultion of popular socieities 
  • rising of Maximum prices  & imposing of maximum wages (Fell by half - they were wage earners)- the enemies foreign and inside had been dealt with and many questionned if it was necessary to apply ruthless policies of the Terror still 

CPS & CGS - The two comittes fell out as CPS set up own police bureau with Robespierre in charge , CGS resented this interfernece - they came became rivals not allies . Two members of CPS  closely attached to Hebert and felt threatened by Robespierre , many in CPS becoming suspicous of Robespierre particually following introduction of Cult of the Supreme Beingand he was losing support from former allies

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The Coup of Thermidor

Robespierre took a months break - worn out physically and emotionally , when he returned on 26th July (Thermidor - a month in new revolutionar calender) he addressed the Conevntion , attacking colleagues who apparently were plotting against the government (when asked to name them he declined) - HOWEVER moderates like Carnot and terrorists like Fouche all delt threatened as they feared Robespierre was about to denounce them as traitors - colleagues conspired to plot against him before he could arrest them 

Arrest - when Robespierre tried to speak to the convention on the 9th July he was shouted down - they voted in favour of arresting Robespierre and his brother and Commander of Paris National Guard - taken to prison and controlled by Vommune- Robespierre still had support from Commune and therefore they demaded for their release - and they were - Commune ordered National Guard to mobolis (under their control) , however the Commune could not inspire the militants - CGS now controlled revolutionary commitees . However the Convention also called on the National Guard to support them against the Commune- only 17 out of 48 sections sent troops- Only Robespierres strange reluctance to act saved the Convention - Robespierre had little faith in the risings and wanted to keep within the law. Barere proposed the prisonners had escaped - this meant they could be executed without trial- this decree persuaded many sections who were unsure send their military on the side of the Covention- when they reached the Hotel de Ville where Robespierre was no one was defending it- Robespierre had tried to kill himself- leading supporters were arrested again- 28th July 1794 Robespierre and 21 others were executed- Coup of Thermidor = rejection pf government by Terror

The end of the Terror- Coup of Thermidor brought the end of Terror (most dramatic period)- mainy gains such as motivatied citizen army  however more negatives such as devestation in Vendee and alienation of Catholics

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The Thermidorian Reaction

Outburst of delight and relief when Robespierre was executed 'people were hugging eachother in the streets', thos who whad helped to overthrow Robespierre were known as the Thermidorians (CPS , CGS , ex-terrorists and the Plain). The Plain now emerged to take control , these men were firmly attached to the Republic and did not want to see the return of the monarchy. The men were joined by the Montagnards

End of the Terror - Conevntion wanted dismantle machinery of the Terror

  • abolished Revolutionary Tribunal 
  • released all suspects from prison 
  • repealed the law of Priairial and closed down Jacobin club 

Convention agreed that 25% of members in CPS & CGS had to be changed each month. In Paris the Commune was abolsihed - local government power passed to moderates and property owners. Thermidorians decided to deal with religious issues by renouncing the Constitutional Church- Sept 1794 Convention no longer paid clerical wage - brougth about seperation of Churh & State - 1795 government restored freedom of worship of all religions and ended persecution of religions- Cult of Supreme Being was ended- neutral in all matters of faith- not favour one belief 

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Risings of Germinal & Prairial

Thermordians got rid of price controls , however removal of price controls led to a fall in value of assignat and massive inflation - assignat dropped in value (print more and more money)- situation made worse by poor harvest in 1794 - grain shortages huge increase in price of bread- economic collapse and bitter cold produced an increase in misery , sucided and famine

Germinal - was a demonstration as hungry turned their fury against Convention- 10,000 unarmed people marched on the Convention- disrupted debates with demand for bread- they expected support from Montagnards but recieved none- when National Guards Appeared they withdrew without resisting

Prairial- more serious affair- armed rising house wives , workers and some National Guard untis marched on the Convention to demand bread- chaos a deputy was killed-forces gathered to confront crowd but tense situation developed- however crisis was resolved when Convention agreed to accept a petition to set up a food Commission. It marked the end of the sans-cullottes as a political military forceand defeat of popular movement marked the end of radical phase of the Revolution - no longer would sans-culottes be able to threaten and intimidate elected assembly

Reasons why the uprisng of Prairial failed

  • workers of Paris were divided (National guard units in several sections remianed loyal to Convention)
  • they were politically in-experienced - they even had advantage and surrounded convention but let it slip
  • loss of support from bourgeoise - no Paris commune to co-ordinate activities

key factor was role of army- regualr army used against citizens of Paris for first time since 1789- intervention was decisive and proved how important they were 

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The White Terror

An attack on ex-terrorist who had done well out of Revolution - it was a royalist reaction as white was colour of Bourbons 'White Terror'. However most of those that took part were non-royalist and had no intention of resorting the Bourbons. Their main concern was vengeance on all those who had been members of popular societies and watch comitees- whites were people who had been victims of revolutioanry tribunals - they turned on people who had done well out of Revolution such as purchases of state land. (not all of France)

White Terror in Paris - limited to the activities of the jeunesse doree (young men who dressed extravagantly as a reaction to restriction of the Terror) who organised and co-ordinated reactionary movement- middle class youths (bankers, lawyers) and sons of suspects or those executed- dressed earrings and long hair tied back like those about to be guillotined - they formed gangs to beat up and indimidate Jacobins and sans-culottes- however not the same scale as Terror

White Terror in Vendee- much more violent- movement known as Chouan opposed to conscription , these men of 50-100 roamed around the countryside attacking grain convoys and de-stabalising local governments and murdering officials. They controlled most of Brittany for nearly 2 years - June 1795 joined by emigres troopso from Channel islands - total rebel force numbered to 22,000. Led by General Hoche 6,000 prisonners were taken including 1000 emigres and 640 were shot. Government wanted the Chouan to be eradicated and sent Houche with a huge army 140,000 to wipe out Chouan rebels- by 1796 restored government authority in the region 

White Terror in the South - murder gangs of White Terror were not considered to be serious threat to Reoublic so little effort was made to crush them- however this allowed them to become stablished and spread rapidly - killed as many as 2000 in South East - killing continued throughout 1796 and much of following year 

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The Constitution of the Year III 1795

Thermidorians wanted a new constitution which would gurantee main features of the Revolution 1789 (freedom of individual/elected assembly and that a dictaorship would be impossible and no return of the monarchy). Main features of new constitution were:

  • all males over 21 who paid different taxtaion were allowed to vote in the primary assemblies and to choose electors
  • electors who actually chose deputies had real power - (Equivalent of 150-200 days labour)- so high numbers fell by 20,000- electors very rich who had suffered during Revolution 1793-4
  • Prevent a dicatorship legislature was seperated from executive

The legislature - divided in two chamber s- one 'the council of 500' all had to be over 30 - have to pass legislation to Council of Ancients. Second was Council of Ancients who were 250 men over age of 40 who would approve or object bills - not introduce or change them- elections held every year when a third of the members retired

The Executive - a directory of 5 chosen by the Ancients - they would hold office for 5 years - one had to reitire each year- couldnt be members of the Council and powers were limited - not initiate or veto laws or declare war- however were in charge of military affairs and law enforcement - ministers appointed by and responsible to direcotrs 

Weaknesses in new Constitution - yearly elections promoted instability , coucnils could paralyse the directory by refusing to pass laws the gvernment required , Directors could not dissolve the Councils or veto laws passe by them - resulted in armies to resolve any disputes- Convention knew the new constituion was unpopular so feared free electors may vote for a royalist majority - so decreed 2/3 of the deputies to new Councils must be chosen. 

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